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Make Big Polluters Pay
TO: GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND DECISION-MAKERS ACROSS THE AFRICAN REGION
RE: HOLD BIG POLLUTERS LIABLE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HARMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE.
We, the undersigned African civil society organizations, represent people and communities across the African region- women, children, farmers, families, the elderly, workers, laborers and especially those on the front lines of the climate crisis. We are writing because of the confounding climate, public health, and economic emergencies being experienced. We write to ask you to take steps that can help our region thrive, and to ask you to be a leader in making this bold but necessary vision a reality.
In 2019 at UN General Assembly, activists from around the world called on world leaders to act to hold liable the industries and corporations that have knowingly fueled and continue to worsen the climate crisis. Since then, more than 220 organizations and 199,000 people from nearly 70 countries- including many across Africa- have echoed this call. The industries that have fueled the climate crisis, funded climate denial, and blocked just climate progress for decades must pay for the damage they have caused. Holding them liable means ensuring that they are held criminally and financially responsible, and that they are made to end the practices that have driven this crisis in the first place.1
While we are amidst the fight of our lives, polluting industries like the fossil fuel industry and agribusiness are preparing for even more insidious expansion. The fossil fuel industry, for example, intends to produce twice as much fossil fuels by 2030 than is consistent with keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
These polluting corporations are most responsible for the climate emergency that is contributing to widespread drought and famine across the region and in many ways, they are also responsible for the multi-faceted crisis we are experiencing.
For decades, these transnational corporations have misled us about the consequences of their products and business practices, exploited our communities, seized our lands and resources, and taken control of our food systems—all for their own benefit. They have left us exposed and ill-equipped for the multiple crises. It’s time for them to be held responsible, criminally, financially, and civilly.
By requiring these corporate actors to pay for the damage they have intentionally caused to communities across Africa, we can unlock urgently needed funding to address the climate emergency and to help communities across the region thrive. This can be done in part through:
• Unlocking loss and damage finance
• Halting investments in the clearly risky fossil fuels sector
• Investigating and holding polluters legally accountable for ecological damage and other wrong doing including human rights abuses and using funds retrieved through liability measures to support frontline communities and to finance a just transition and much more.
African government officials and decision makers have a critical role to play in advancing industry liability, and in protecting our lives and livelihoods from those that treat us as discountable or even disposable to secure their selfish interests.
The time for change, and for meaningful action that secures the present and safeguards the future of the African region is now. Laying the foundation for this future begins with holding polluting corporations liable. And holding them liable begins with you, and your leadership.
We have suffered severe climate impacts and it is time for Africa to lead the way towards climate justice.
We look to you to lead the way in taking concrete steps to hold polluting corporations responsible for the damage they knowingly cause.
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